From the humble streets of Asamankese in the Eastern region of Ghana, not many would have predicted that George (Jorge) Appiah will one day grow to become a colossus in engineering in Africa to the extent of creating significant change not only in the lives of family members, but also several others through job creation.
The story of the technopreneur, as he chooses to call himself, is one of determination, perseverance and hope.
“I didn’t get the best of privileges in terms of access to necessities like electricity. I had to grow up without electricity. Had to learn with candles and lanterns to study …My first encounter with a computer was at Pope Johns and it was quite an experience. At the end though I ended up being one of the top IT guys even though I had never seen a computer before,” he said to Kwabena Kyenkyenhene Boateng on the business edition of 21 minutes with KKB.
After enduring several years of hardship, including a lack of access to electricity for a significant part of his childhood, Jorge decided to pursue a career in engineering, all in a bid to provide electricity for his grandmother.
“I was committed to being an electrical engineer because of my experience – I was committed in finding a sustainable solution that one day I will be providing electricity to my grandmum, because of that I felt like the field of engineering would give me that better opportunity to do so,” he said.
In following that passion and commitment, Jorge and some colleagues of his at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology ended up piloting a number of ideas including the building of space balloons, drones, etc. at a time when many were grappling with the transition from black and white televisions to colour televisions in the West African country, Ghana.
“We built some space balloons to fly satellites into space taking data, we built our first drone in 2013 when people in Ghana didn’t even know what a drone was. We were just innovating for fun. It got to a point we realized that we had to take the innovations to the market because anytime we went for exhibitions, we were only taking fans [and no money]. It had gotten to the point where people from the community were graduating and needed jobs and other things so we started Kumasi Hive.”
With a background in wind energy, biofuel and biogas, it wouldn’t be long for Jorge to get the needed funding from the mastercard foundation to start an assembly plant in Ghana. The focus was to assemble bicycles, motorbikes and even cars powered by electricity – and he’s doing this with a workforce of which 90% are women.
Watch the full story of Jorge Appiah in this interview with Kwabena Kyenkyenhene Boateng on 21 minutes with KKB.
The Business edition of 21 minutes with KKB is produced in partnership with MTN Business and First National Bank Ghana and aims to tell the inspiring stories of agents of change in Ghana today.